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For tired Sixers, a needed respite | Off the Dribble

The Sixers played six games in nine days and looked worn down.

Tobias Harris (12) and his Sixers teammates will return to action tonight after a needed respite.
Tobias Harris (12) and his Sixers teammates will return to action tonight after a needed respite.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The 76ers are like most NBA teams: Players can’t wait to get to the gym and stay there well after practice. Despite the grind of an 82-game NBA season, players are always working on refining their game.

Yet there comes a time in the NBA schedule that being away from the gym is almost as important as working out.

After a tough recent stretch, the Sixers hit one of those stretches, and the players welcomed a day off Monday and two full days without a game.

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One bushed team

The Sixers suffered their largest margin of defeat this season in Sunday’s 109-89 loss at Brooklyn. As Keith Pompey wrote, the Sixers looked sluggish and out of sync.

Even though the Sixers had had a day off after playing Friday and Brooklyn had played a game Saturday night in Toronto, the Nets had a much bigger bounce to their step.

With his team playing on fumes, coach Brett Brown gave the Sixers off Monday, and that was music to the players’ ears.

“I am not going to lie. Usually it is good to get right back at it [after a tough loss] because it is the NBA and there are a lot of games, but for me personally, it was good to be able to sit out and be still for a minute,” Sixers guard Josh Richardson said after Tuesday’s practice.

Richardson said the Sixers worked hard at practice in preparation to face his former team, the Miami Heat, Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

“After practice, I could tell the guys were ready to go,” Richardson said.

The game at Brooklyn was the Sixers’ sixth in nine days, a heavy load even by NBA standards. Having two full days before their next game was something the players relished.

“We needed a couple of days,” said Tobias Harris, who has played in all 28 Sixers games this season, along with Mike Scott and James Ennis III. “... I needed the day.”

Starting five

  1. The father of Sixers guard Trey Burke caused a social media firestorm when he said on Instagram that he wanted his son traded, Keith Pompey writes.

  2. After two straight sluggish performances, I write that the Sixers are looking to get back in sync.

  3. On Pompey’s podcast, he talks with radio talk-show host Jeff Cohen about The Inquirer’s recent extensive feature on Matisse Thybulle, about Joel Embiid and load management, and about Jimmy Butler and whether the Sixers would be better off with him on the roster.

  4. Damichael Cole has a story on another instance of Tobias Harris’ giving back to the community.

  5. The Sixers moved up in our weekly Inquirer power rankings despite Sunday’s loss to the Nets.

Winning at home

The Sixers are the NBA’s only unbeaten team at home, with a 14-0 mark entering tonight’s game against the Heat.

In going back to last year, the Sixers have won 15 in a row at home during the regular season. Where does that 15-game regular-season home win streak stand in NBA history? It would make the Sixers tied for 114th, according to

Here are the top five regular-season home win streaks, according to Basketball Reference.

Team, streak, first win in streak; last win in streak

1. Golden State, 54, Jan. 31, 2015; March 29, 2016

2. San Antonio, 48, March 15, 2015; April 2, 2016

3. Chicago, 44, March 30, 1995; April 4, 1996

4. Orlando, 40, March 21, 1995; March 19, 1996

5. Boston, 38, Dec. 10, 1985; Nov. 28, 1986

The Sixers’ team record is 36, which is sixth all-time. The first win in that streak was Jan. 14, 1966, and the last win was Jan. 20, 1967.

So this year’s Sixers team still has a lot of ground to cover to move up the charts.

Next five

Tonight: Miami at Sixers, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN

Friday: Dallas at Sixers, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN

Saturday: Washington at Sixers,, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia

Monday: Sixers at Detroit, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus

Dec. 25: Milwaukee at Sixers, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Passing the rock

Question: Marc wrote in today’s article that Ben is averaging 34-35 minutes - heavy load. Not to keep beating a dead horse but anyone that check will see Ben wasn’t playing these heavy minutes with (Trey) Burke as his back up. Why is there such a quick trigger on (Raul) Neto if that’s his guy? — @sportz4natic on Twitter

Answer: Thank you for the question and for reading our Sixers coverage; it is greatly appreciated.

As for Simmons’ playing so many minutes, I think it comes down to two things. First, Brown has incredible trust in Simmons — more than he has in Burke or Neto — and Brown, who emphasizes defense, feels Simmons brings the Sixers to another level on that end of the court. Brown obviously also likes the way Simmons runs the offense.

The other factor is that Simmons looks like one of the best-conditioned athletes in the NBA. He never looks tired. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t get fatigued, but he always plays with high energy. Brown feels he can play heavy minutes.

I would look for those minutes to get cut as the playoffs are near, because the Sixers will need Simmons fresh for the postseason, where his average minutes per game could be higher than in the regular season.